In the stunning Alpujarra mountains of Southern Spain sits the Da-a-Luz Midwifery School, established by midwife Vanessa Brooks who is passionate about sharing holistic birthing wisdom with midwives, doulas and pregnant women alike. Da a Luz in Spanish means to ‘give birth’ but literally translates into ‘give light’, which is exactly what this inspiring school is offering with its year long apprenticeships in midwifery and shorter stays for midwives wishing to complete one of their electives ‘off grid’.
Here Vanessa shares her vision to bring more holistic birth skills to the midwifery curriculum “We are building a school dedicated towards creating a new paradigm in midwifery education – women based learning. Away from the belief that birth is merely a medical event. A learning space for wise women around Europe and a sanctuary for those who feel unsupported by a medicalised and fragmented system. An oasis to share wisdom and inspiration between birth keepers.”
I arrived on a hot, dry and dusty day in July as the Mums & Bubs circle was being held under a shady tree, birth stories were being shared and early parenting ideas, a familiar scenario to me. Only this time the circle includes three newly qualified midwives from England who have chosen to come and live ‘off grid’ for ten days, an extreme change from their day-to-day roles in busy maternity units. Here they are connecting intimately with Mother Nature as they bathe in the river, sleep close to the earth in a yurt and watch the full moon rise over the mountains.
Asma a third year student midwife, from West Yorkshire, reflects on her stay at Da-a-Luz “I have been challenged physically and emotionally, and as well as an elective placement, I feel this has been a personal journey for me. I feel fresh, revitalised and ready for my new journey as a newly qualfied midwife, fully equipped with everything I’ve learnt during my years of study and what was shared with me during my time at Da-a-Luz. Although I can get distracted by the hustle and bustle of busy bodies, baseline observations and ensuring all the boxes are ticked and crossed, one thing myself and the midwives at Da-a-Luz are passionate about is women centred care, something so basic yet so important in midwifery”
The students are offered a range of holistic pregnancy and birth topics by the resident and visiting teachers, including Hypnobirthing, Prenatal Yoga, Shiatsu, Homebirth and Spiritual Birthing practices, all quite different from their everyday studies.
Midwife Emily, from Portsmouth, shares “My time at Da-a-Luz was an incredibly relaxing, emotional, grounding and life enhancing experience. To be surrounded by such strong, empowering women has really set in stone the midwife I aspire to be. I can’t wait to incorporate all the beautifully holistic techniques I’ve learnt into the care that I provide in a far-too-medicalised maternity service. Also to go back to visit again!”.
For me, sitting in circle with women, wherever I am in the world, is an opportunity for connection, bonding and growth. As a Sacred Birth Educator and Doula Trainer, I enjoy sharing birthing wisdom through stories of undisturbed and empowered birth. My passion is to support birth keepers to be in touch with their own spiritual nature and to reclaim the soul of birth. By openly and honestly exploring our own beliefs and patterns, releasing those which no longer serve either ourselves or the birthing women we support. As women holding space for other women we must first be present with ourselves, recognising fear when it arises, taking the space to clear and align ourselves to stand in our unwavering strength and belief in the power of birth.
One of the highlights of my stay was participating in a beautiful Blessingway, held high in the mountains, beside a rushing waterfall. This beautiful ritual was to honour ripely pregnant mother-to-be, Alison, who travelled all the way from England to Da-a-Luz, after meeting Vanessa to home-birth her baby here in Spain. This stunning setting, deep in nature, carries many significant symbols for birthing – the flow of the water reflecting the emotions of pregnancy and birth finding their own course; the connection of the women supporting the birthing mama; the roar of the waterfall powerfully expressing itself and the groundedness of the rocks providing a secure and solid foundation for mother and baby to meet each other – all powerful imprints as they approach birth with confidence and clarity.
Anna Watts is an Australian Sacred Birth Educator, Doula Trainer & Mentor and Counselor. Celebration of Birth offers regular Sacred Birth Doula Training for both new and experienced Doulas to explore birth as a journey of transformation and healing. Please visit the website for dates of training and details about personal sessions in person or by Skype anywhere in the world www.celebrationofbirth.com
For more information about Da-a-Luz visit their website – https://daaluzoasis.wordpress.com/